2012 NFL Mock Draft: Explosive Playmakers Teams Can't Afford to Pass On

T.J. Mcaloon@@tjmcaloonContributorJanuary 13, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Louisiana State University Tigers during the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NFL draft is a time when a team can select that dynamic player who can turn his franchise around from day one. 

For example, when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Ben Roethlisberger in the first round, it led them to three Super Bowl appearances, with two victories. Just last year, when the Carolina Panthers selected Cam Newton with the first pick, it led them to a four-win turnaround from the previous year. 

This year, there are only a few players that explosive that they can—and will—turn a franchise around from day one. 

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Luck is the best player in the draft this year and will be selected by the Colts to be their quarterback for the future. With Peyton Manning at 36 years old, Luck’s time may come sooner than later. 

2. St. Louis Rams: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Rams gave up 55 sacks last year, which means they need O-line help. Kalil is the best tackle in the draft and will go to the Rams at No. 2.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

The Vikings were awful in pass defense this year, giving up a league-high 34 touchdowns this year. Claiborne is the best corner in the draft and should go to Minnesota at No. 3.

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Richardson is that explosive player that can turn a franchise around from day one. He has proved he can be the center of an offense, as he was at Alabama this year, and he proved he can out-muscle defenders. Richardson is the best running back in the draft this year, and with the Browns already having a mobile quarterback in Colt McCoy, the smart move is to take Richardson at No. 4. 

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Kirkpatrick comes into Tampa Bay and is its best cornerback from day one. With Tampa giving up 30 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks this year, it will have to take Kirkpatrick at No. 5

6. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10:  (L-R) Coach Art Briles and Robert Griffin III of the Baylor Bears poses with the trophy after being named the 77th Heisman Memorial Trophy Award winner during a press conference at The New York Marriott Marquis on December 10,
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Washington needs a quarterback, since the combination of Rex Grossman and John Beck didn’t work out. The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner comes into Washington and should be the starter from day one.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Justin Blackmon can come into Jacksonville and be its best receiver in the history of its franchise. He has freakish talent in that his size and speed make him a nightmare to cover for opposing receivers. And, with the Jaguars having the worst passing offense in the NFL last year, Blackmon gives them a legit target for Blaine Gabbert. They have to take Blackmon at No. 7, if he falls to them.

8. Carolina Panthers (subject to coin flip): Devon Still, DT, Penn State

The Panthers need help on their run defense and Still is the best tackle in the draft. They will take the PSU run-stopper at No. 8

9. Miami Dolphins (subject to coin flip): Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Miami needs a quarterback and a top wide receiver. However, with Griffin III and Blackmon going ahead of them, it will need to draft for need here. With Ingram the Dolphins get someone that can rush the passer and help a defense that only had 41 sacks.

10. Buffalo Bills: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

Buffalo WR Stevie Johnson had personal foul penalties for his self-centered attitude, which may have forced his way out of Buffalo. With the No. 10 pick the Bills can get a better receiver in Jeffery. 

11. Kansas City Chiefs (subject to coin flip): Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

The Chiefs need help on their offensive line, and Martin is the best player on the board in this position. 

12. Seattle Seahawks (subject to coin flip): David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

Seattle gave up 50 sacks to its quarterback last year. DeCastro will help in fixing that problem. 

13. Arizona Cardinals: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Arizona was second in the NFL in sacks allowed, its quarterback go down 54 times. The Cardinals need some help, and Reiff will plug the hole on the O-line. 

14. Dallas Cowboys: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

The Cowboys have been known to take a risk on players with checkered pasts. Jenkins is a great cornerback that has a past that has him down on a number of mock drafts. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will take a risk on Jenkins at No. 14.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

Hightower is a high-energy player that hits anything that moves. He can help a rushing defense that ranked 16th last year. 

16. New York Jets: Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia 

The Jets need help with their offensive line, and Glenn can fix that problem. 

17. Cincinnati Bengals (via Oakland Raiders): Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska 

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 25: Wide receiver Don Shumpert #8 of the Iowa Hawkeyes is tripped up by cornerback Alfonzo Dennard #15 and linebacker Alonzo Whaley #45 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during their game at Memorial Stadium November 25, 2011 in Lincoln,
Eric Francis/Getty Images

The Bengals did have the ninth-best passing defense in the league, but they were torched for 21 touchdowns last year to receivers. They should take Dennard with No. 17 and fix the cornerback position. 

18. San Diego Chargers: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

The Chargers allowed teams to constantly hit QB Philip Rivers, which was a reason why they finished at 8-8. Taking Sanders at No. 18 will help correct this and improve their record next year. 

19. Chicago Bears: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

Brian Urlacher isn’t getting any younger, and the Bears need to find a replacement for him soon. Burfict can come in and be the understudy to Urlacher while the linebacker starts to wind his career down. 

20. Tennessee Titans: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Floyd is a great receiver, but he isn’t that true No. 1 receiver. He can come into Tennessee with Kenny Britt and form a great one-two combo that gels with Jake Locker. 

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL)

Miller is the second-best running back in this draft, and with the Bengals potentially losing Cedric Benson to free agency they can add the speedy back from Miami. With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, Miller could be the third piece to their young nucleus on their offense. 

22. Cleveland Browns (via Atlanta Falcons): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Wright had a huge year being Griffin’s top receiver during his 2011 Heisman Trophy year. His speed, and route running makes him a top receiver in this draft. At No. 22, he will help fix a big need a receiver for Cleveland. 

23. Detroit Lions: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

The Lions were awful in defending the pass this year. They have to address this need by drafting Gilmore at No. 23. 

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Quinton Coples, DE/DT, North Carolina

The Steelers will have their defensive front retire soon. They should take Coples here at No. 24 to help rebuild the defensive line with Ziggy Hood and last year’s first-round draft pick, Cameron Heyward. 

25. Denver Broncos: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers

The Broncos need a No. 1 receiver to grow with Tim Tebow. Picking Sanu at No. 25 will be that go-to receiver that Tebow needs to help him grow as a QB. 

26. New York Giants: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Barron is one of those combination defenders that can defend the pass just as well he defends the run. The Giants have to take him at No. 26 and improve an already good defense. 

27. Houston Texans: Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson

Houston has a good defense, but adding Thompson would make them an elite defense. They can add the run-stopper from Clemson at No. 27 and watch as teams fail to run on them next year. 

28. New England Patriots (via New Orleans Saints): Jared Crick, DE/DT, Nebraska

The Patriots did not have a pass rush this year, only sacking the quarterback 40 times. Crick can help in adding a great pass rush to a defense that ranked 31st last year. 

29. Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin

Baltimore needs a center, and Konz is the best one in the draft. It’s a match made in heaven for the Ravens. 

30. San Francisco 49ers: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

The 49ers rushing offense struggled down the stretch this year. With Adams sitting there at No. 30, the 49ers will select the OT from Ohio State.

31. Green Bay Packers: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Virginia Tech Hokies scrambles with the ball as Luke Kuechly #40 of the Boston College Eagles defends on September 25, 2010 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty
Elsa/Getty Images

The Packers need help in the passing game, and Kuechly certainly can come in and help in the coverage game in covering tight ends and running backs coming out of the backfield. 

32. New England Patriots: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

New England is getting old in its defensive front line. Getting Cox with the last pick of the first round would help in getting the Patriots a young replacement. 


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